Archive for May, 2010

Beware of the Dangers of Grading Job Interviews on a Pass-Fail Basis

I understand why most job seekers have no interest in consolation prizes regarding job interviews. Being happy about making the cut from hundreds of résumés or reaching finalist status does nothing to relieve the stress of a job search or unemployment. However, perceiving any opportunity that does not result in a job offer as a failure can damage and extend a job search indefinitely. As I have noted in a previous post, a huge key to successful interviews is being able to position yourself as the solution to the needs and problems of the company or hiring manager. To succeed in doing this, the bulk of your interview preparation needs to be spent on determining what these needs are, then presenting your appropriate skills and experiences that demonstrate your ability to help solve these problems.

Unfortunately, when job seekers grade interviews strictly on a pass-fail basis, they can slip into a dangerous mindset. They review each interview looking for how they “blew it,” then vow not to make the same mistake in their next interview. The problem occurs when preparing for a subsequent interview, they focus on correcting their perceived mistakes from the last interview. In this mindset, the chances that they will uncover any of a hiring manager’s needs, challenges and motivations to hire become extremely remote.  Unfortunately, this often results in an interview where the candidate and hiring manager are on completely different pages, resulting in no job offer or call back. This pattern likely will continue as long as the focus of interview preparation remains on  “righting” interviews. Military folks compare it with the flawed strategy of “fighting the previous battle.” 

Let me sharing the experience of an executive I worked with that recently landed after a search of more than two years. He networked so extensively throughout and helped so many others, that colleagues nicknamed him the “Godfather of Networking”. Countless times when an opportunity failed to pan out, he spoke with me trying to determine a step in his strategy where he did something wrong, and I continuously assured him I saw none.

 Interestingly, once he started his job, one of his first assignments was to hire two staff members. He saw many candidates, including members of his own network, make outstanding presentations of their qualifications for these positions. He faced the difficult task of selecting the candidates he felt best fit his needs for the position. After making his decision, he let me know that he now understood why I kept telling him he hadn’t been doing anything wrong all those months.

Three Job “Perks” That May Not Be as Perky as You Think

Any new job or career brings some unexpected surprises to new employees; drawbacks they had not anticipated and were obviously not volunteered by the employer during the interview process. I want to discuss three particular job features that many find extremely enticing when first offered. However, you really should speak to people that have worked under these circumstances to get a better understanding that they might not be quite the perk you believe them to be.

Telecommuting/Working from Home. First reaction to this: “Wow, I can work in my pajamas. No one looking over my shoulder! No commute time, I can take care of personal things much more easily during the day. My gasoline and wardrobe expenses will decline.”  The list goes on.

These all may be true, but once workers start this, they often find they miss interacting with co-workers. There’s no one to receive immediate feedback from. Plus, you can loose touch with the pulse of a company or maybe slip out of “the loop,” so to speak. The Wall Street Journal recently cited a report by the International Data Corporation finding that fewer employees have been seeking telecommuting options, feeling the distance from “where the action is” makes their jobs more vulnerable. I recently started semi-monthly résumé talk lunches with some private résumé writers. Both “work from home” consultants love the lunches partly because they have such limited opportunities to exchange ideas with colleagues working from home.

 A completely absent, or “Hands-Off” supervisor. If you’ve just escaped working under a controlling micro-manager, this model initially looks like Nirvana. However, in training you will quickly see the one major down of such a supervisor. You may be quickly thrust right into the firing line, and when you look for instruction support and guidance, the absentee boss is just that-absent. This pattern will continue throughout your tenure.

Travel on the job. Wow, I get to see new places on company dime. Problem is few jobs have a happy median for travel. You will likely move quickly into a mode where you hop planes multiple times per month. Plus, you don’t very often get to see much more than office, hotel rooms and airports. Your schedule can get thrown completely off  by flight delays and cancellation. Once again, see how many people you find that travel extensively for their jobs that rave about it.

 At a recent conference, I had the pleasure of hearing Judson Laipply of “Evolution of Dance” fame speak. In addition to his performance, a factor he stressed also stuck with me. He spoke about how much happiness is affected by the gap between one’s expectations and actual results. The closer results resemble expectations, the more happiness ensues, whether expectations are realistic or not. Each of these perks can provide better work opportunities. I just hate to see unrealistic expectations sour people on a job unnecessarily.